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What if I get a lower ATAR than I expected?

3 things to do if you don’t get the results you were hoping for
Getting a lower than expected ATAR is not the end of your career hopes, so don't worry – there are many other pathways to your dream course or career.

Receiving your ATAR can be an exciting and nervous time, but it's a good idea to have a back-up plan. Here are our top three tips to help take the pressure off when deciding what your plan b will be.

1. Understand your options

The first step is to understand your options. Check which courses offer guaranteed entry using your exam results.

If you experienced significant disruption during Year 12, one of our admission pathways could help you receive an offer for your dream course.

Some options to consider:

  • Check your eligibility for MySydney Entry and Scholarship Scheme 
  • If you did well in English or maths, you may be eligible for up to five adjustment factors through the Academic Excellence Scheme.
  • Apply for a similar course with a lower ATAR, and study what you want through our shared pool of majors and minors.
  • Complete the first year of a related course with a lower ATAR then apply to transfer into your preferred course.
  • Apply for a graduate entry into postgraduate coursework, such as a master's degree, after you have completed your undergraduate degree.

2. Seek advice

Seek advice from your family, friends and careers advisers and get as much information as you can to help you make an informed decision before preferences close.

Chat to us at an event. Our staff and students are on hand to answer your questions on anything from majors to options available via admissions pathways, as well as help you finalise your preferences. Write down a list of questions you have so that you can tick them off on the day. Here are a few suggested questions to ask:

  • Which subjects are on offer in my degree?
  • What is a guaranteed ATAR, and what happens if I don’t meet it?
  • What approximate mark would I need if I wanted to transfer after my first year of study?
  • If I don’t get into the undergraduate degree, will there be graduate-entry options available?

3. Don't sweat it

It is not the end of your career hopes if you don’t get the marks you were hoping for. Entry scores are a signal about the demand for a course, not its inherent quality.

There are so many pathways into university and your ATAR is just one of those routes. If you don’t do as well as you had hoped, there are still many opportunities and ways to get the education you want for a rewarding career.

4. Join us at Info Day

Speak to current students, academics, and staff to explore your options and get your questions answered.

Join us on campus for our upcoming Info Day usually held the same day that Year 12 results are released.

Last updated 4 April 2024

14 December 2017

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